Salt Lake City, UT – The Sutherland Institute, Utah’s conservative think tank, recently published a peer-reviewed article in the 2008 BYU Law Review that traces modern compulsory public school attendance in Utah back to its historical origin. The new publication, “Removing Classrooms from the Battlefield: Liberty, Paternalism, and the Redemptive Promise of Educational Choice,” serves as a companion piece to Sutherland’s Vouchers, Vows, and Vexations: The Historical Dilemma Over Utah’s Education Identityreleased in September 2007.
The recently-published article describes a federal policy of dissolving polygamous Native American households, rounding up Native American children into military forts, and then relocating the children to government schools and work programs modeled after Richard Henry Pratt’s innovations for “civilizing” minority populations at Fort Marion in Florida.
“At the time we first presented the findings,” Sutherland Institute President Paul T. Mero observes, “no one could have imagined that there would be a 2008 Texas polygamy raid by social workers involving an en masse confinement of minors at historic Fort Concho.”
Because the final edited version of the article was published in 2008, the authors, Mero and Daniel E. Witte, attorney and trustee of the Sutherland Institute, were able to analyze In re Rachel L., a controversial California Second District Court of Appeals opinion that borrowed from Pratt’s ideas to conclude that all home educators in California can be fined, imprisoned, subjected to mandatory counseling, and have their parental rights terminated. Sutherland has also filed an amicus brief in connection with the Court’s pending reconsideration of that vacated opinion.
“Removing Classrooms from the Battlefield” also notes that some Utah public schools illegally used statistical “averaging” and other manipulations to avoid mandatory closures and bad publicity under the federal No Child Left Behind law. These actions deprived Utah voters of accurate information during the campaign about the legalization of vouchers.
“Liberty and transparency are keys to solving Utah’s very serious educational problems,” says Witte.